ALTHOUGH the IBM AS/ 400 is not traditionally viewed as fitting into the client/ server model, IBM is now promoting the unit as a high performance server, and so leveraging the growing interest in client/server technology. The company estimates that more than 20,000 AS/400 systems are already running client/server applications. Denise Buonaiuto, IBM's director of client server marketing, said IBM now had to promote the AS/400's client/server capabilities and were trying to position it as an integrated solution for client/server computing. Ms Buonaiuto was in Hong Kong last week as part of an Asian tour, which fits into this strategy. She said the AS/400 offered customers an easy to use, low-cost solution, which allowed full PC integration. This means users get seamless integration between client and server. Ease of use is maintained as a result of the OS/400 operating system which allows simple management and features an integrated relational database, DB2/400. The operating system also features communication protocols, security capabilities, system and network management, and file maintenance and printing capabilities, all of which utilise similar easy-to-use menus. Because DB2/400 is integrated in both the hardware and the software, it is more efficient in that it assures all the other functions of the operating system work together. The database uses the standard SQL access language, and is compatible with other DB2 databases. Meanwhile, improvements to the TCP/IP (transmission control protocol/Internet protocol) communication links provide smoother and more efficient client to client communication. To dispel customer's fears over running mission critical applications in client/server environments, Ms Buonaiuto said the AS/400 was designed and built to run this type of important application. She said at present the number of customers using client/server for mission critical applications was small, but growing slowly. 'I think it's going to take another one to two years before customers put their mission critical applications on client/server, although the number is growing,' she said. She said that generally she was finding customers were struggling with what to do with client/server, and that most were simply running GUI front-end applications. Meanwhile, in Asia, which has traditionally lagged behind in the adoption of new technology, the situation is similar, according to Tim Schuetz, IBM's Asia Pacific AS/400 brand operations manager. He said the region's growing companies were still trying to sort out their requirements. Among those organisations already using AS/400s in client/server environments are Thorn UK, Del Monte Foods, Meadow Lea Foods and the Macau Department of Education.